NEWPORT BEACH — Two years ago, Bob Eastwood shot a course-record 64 in his final round of the Toshiba event at Newport Beach Country Club and finished second behind Jim Colbert.
Saturday's round wasn't quite that good--a four-under-par 67--but it was good enough to get Eastwood near the leaders and restore a little confidence.
"I got the feeling back I had here two years ago," said Eastwood, who trails leader Hubert Green by four shots and is in a seven-way tie for fourth.
Despite a breakthrough 1997 season when he won two Seniors tournaments and $833,908, Eastwood, 52, said he wasn't especially happy with his play until he corrected a flaw on the driving range after shooting an opening-round 70 on Friday.
"I was having an alignment problem until I worked it out on the range," said Eastwood, who is five under for the tournament. "Sometimes your eyes fool you. But today I got squared up. I was hitting the ball a lot more solid and farther.
"I play a fade, and the course is set up more for my kind of shots. If I can play tomorrow like I did today, I think I'll have a shot at winning."
Also moving within striking distance Saturday was John Schroeder, who had six birdies and finished with a five-under 66.
Like Eastwood, the round gave Schroeder, looking for his first Seniors victory, some peace of mind after what Schroeder called "a very tough last six months" of struggling with his game.
"I just haven't been scoring," said Schroeder, 52, who punctuated his day with a 40-foot eagle chip on the 510-yard, par-five 18th.
"Friday, I played well and shot 72. The difference today was I made a few key putts. And getting the [eagle] chip after hitting a thin second shot . . . that was like stealing one there."
As for what it will take to win, Schroeder said, "The guys who win are the ones who don't give away any shots. Everybody's going to make a bogey now and then. But if they have to make a big shot to make par, that's what they do."
In first-round play Friday, the 203-yard, par-three eighth hole was the toughest to play, giving up the fewest birdies (two) and collecting the most bogeys (35).
Officials put the pin on the front right side of the green next to a ridge. It made the green difficult to read.
On Saturday, the pin placement was moved between the middle and left backside of the green, and the tee box was moved up to 195 yards.
The greens were softened by the Friday night rains, breezes were minimal and the eighth hole became vulnerable. Seven birdies and only 15 bogeys were recorded by the field on No. 8.
"Today, it was easier, especially if you played in the morning without the heel marks," said Gary Player, who is one under for the tournament. "Then the ball breaks the way you think it will. But greens are tough to read. You have slope and grain [the direction the grass grows in]. That makes it hard to read.
"This is a deceptively good golf course. For a short course, this is a fine test. You can play long courses that can break you. This is not long, but it is a very well-designed course."
Add Player: When asked about Tiger Woods' menu choices for the Masters' Dinner of Champions in April--selections include hamburgers, fries, and shakes--the 63-year-old South African, a known fitness fanatic, laughed.
"That's the great thing about Augusta, when you're champion it's your choice," Player said. "But it's very exciting to have a young man like Tiger at the Augusta dinner. He's the youngest man to be there, and that's a very big honor.
"Besides golf makes you so hungry you'll eat anything."
Player has won the Masters three times, most recently in 1978. His dinner choice the next year was chicken and steak.